Well it’s October and the trees are beginning to change to their fall beauty and us those of us that love summer can no longer kid ourselves that it is “late summer”. Fall means lots of activity for our Resurrection family. We have already had a great Fall Festival. Thanks to all that came out and contributed to make that possible. Ahead is Reformation and All Saints Sundays. We will also have presentations about some of our partners and our own stewardship in preparation for Harvest Sunday on November 12th when we will make our Harvest Offering for our outreach partners as well as make our commitment of our time, talents, and financial contributions to our own ministry here at Resurrection. Sunday November 19th will be our Thanksgiving service followed by a Pie Social after service. And before you know it we’ll be in Advent. Hard to believe I know.
On top of all this our pastoral transition work moves on. I would like to deeply thank the following individuals who have stepped up to be on the Mission Exploration Team (MET) aka Transition Team: Cindy Duffin, Tracy Hahn, Karen VanDomelen, Karen Manisto, Pat Marohl, Mary Sukopp, and Matson Wick. Over the next several months these individuals will work to complete our Mission Profile which will provide information about our ministry to potential candidates and direction to the call committee about the qualities we seek in a new pastor. The team will choose their own chairperson and will be guided in their work by Pastor Steve. I will serve only as the link between this committee and the council. I ask that you pray for these individuals and their work.
One of the key questions the MET will answer is “Who are our neighbors?”. This is a very important question because, if we are to define our ministry and the qualities we want in a new pastor, it is critical to know who God is putting in our path and which of their needs we can meet. Beyond that the long-term health and viability of our congregation depends on the answers to this question. It is no secret to any of us that our congregation is aging. Nor is it a secret that the culture and the world in which we live is changing as well. Your Council has begun a study of the book Leading Faithful Innovation: Following God into a Hopeful Future and in it the authors discuss some of those cultural changes. There is a movement away from an Age of Association in which people found belonging and purposeful accomplishments through the organizations to which they belonged to an Age of Authenticity in which people look inward to find their true identities apart from organizations. More and more people are pursuing their spiritual journeys outside the walls of churches (New Age, Mysticism, Yoga, etc.) in addition many people who identify themselves as Christians do so outside the institution of the Church. Among those that consider themselves “occasional church goers” 40% say they don’t go more often because they practice their faith in other ways.
We, like other churches, are facing challenges that aren’t easy to navigate. So what are we to do? The writers of Leading Faithful Innovation propose learning new ways to embody Christian identity and purpose in these changing contexts. They propose “simple” Spirit-led practices of listening to God, one another, and our neighbors and engaging in simple experiments of being present in the spaces of our wider communities where life takes place. It parallels nicely with the work of the MET because through these practices the goal is to identify how God might be leading us into deeper relationships, connections and community where the gospel story speaks in conversation with the stories of our neighbors.
So here is where you come in. In the months ahead we may be embarking on some of these experimental forays into our community to better “meet people where they are” and listen to God and one another so that we lovingly create space in our neighborhood for people’s yearnings, fears, anxieties, and hopes. And ultimately bringing them to a place where they can experience a hopeful future and continue to walk alongside us to that end. Some of our initial brainstorming ideas include; bible study or prayer meeting at a local coffee shop or even a pub, outdoor worship service at a park before a baseball or soccer game, and “staffing” a “Free Prayers” table at a local farmers market (I think you get the idea). This will be a very different way to “do church” and will require some, if not most, of us to step outside our comfort zone. But this is not a new model; it has been around since the early church. The community has always been the center of discipleship. It is your leadership's firm belief that it is a way that we remain relevant and continue to thrive as a congregation. If asked, I would hope you prayerfully consider participating in some of these “experiments”. I also want to make clear that this does not mean we are abandoning the things that we cherish about Resurrection – our worship, our internal community, and our love. It does mean as these experiments progress that it may result in some changes in our outreach programs. But that remains to be seen. I welcome your questions, ideas, or concerns.
Blessing for a hopeful future for us and our neighbors,